Elf on the Shelf: Festive fun or holiday horror?


Photo courtesy of Megan Loren.

Megan Baker, Staff Writer

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; 

Except for the tiny man, who crept around downstairs,

And stared endlessly at the sleeping children, giving them all nightmares.

Wait, what?

That’s right, tis’ the season for your every waking moment to be watched by a tiny doll man in a unitard! More formally known as the Elf of the Shelf, this best selling Christmas toy watches children during the day, and then flies to the North Pole each night to report back to Santa. In the morning, the elf is found in a new spot everyday, and it’s surrounded by the little remnants of mischief that it got into over the night, like paper snowflakes that it made or cookies that it baked. The elf also can’t be touched or it loses its Christmas magic, but is there any way to lose that creepy side-eye?

The bright red cheeks, the weird eyes, and the concept that it watches you all day is enough to give anyone the creeps, and it certainly does. Several parents have reported their children having nightmares because of the elf, fearing that it will take their Christmas away from them. More than anything, that constant threat of their every move being under scrutiny instills unnecessary fear and stress in youth everywhere. 

If not creepy, you have to admit that the toy seems like it was designed to torture parents. As if they don’t already have enough to deal with during the holidays, now they have the responsibility of rolling out of bed at 2:00 a.m. to move an overpriced doll from the kitchen to the living room, alongside coming up with and executing “mischief” that the elf got into over the night. Sure, some parents are willing to take a bullet for their children, but is anything really worth the effort required to maintain the magic of the Elf on the Shelf?

Created by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell in 2005, the product hit its stride in popularity right away, with revenue increasing at an annual rate of 150 percent and yearly sales of about $10 million. The company continues to expand as a result of their success, coming out with multiple new elves of slightly varying skin tones as well as movies and TV shows. Today, over 13 million elves have been sold, leaving us all to fear the day that they start using all of that Christmas magic to rise up and destroy the human race. 

Some find the Elf on the Shelf creepy, others find it charming. However you feel, there’s no denying that the elf is more high maintenance than your children themselves and those cheeks are just a little too rosy to be trusted.